Thursday, December 10, 2009

Link Building for Personalized Search (LinkMoses Resurrected 9)

In the wake of the recent news Danny Sullivan covered excellently at SearchEngineLand in Google Now Personalizes Everyone's Search Results, some of you may be having a link building PANIC ATTACK.

Don't.

For the most part, high merit content owners should have no fear, because personalized search doesn't somehow turn your high-merit content into no-merit content.

I feel a small sense of vindication. It seems like forever since I wrote Google Personalized Search, Google Bookmarks & Link Building. You might want to re-read it. It was a couple years ago.

I'm finally working on that Personalized Link Building Strategies Special Report I mentioned two years ago. The report will not include tricks for fooling algorithms. It will include practical, ethical, and responsible link building advice specific to personalized search results, My goal is to explain what you can and can't influence, as well as how and when you should.

If I decide to sell this report, it will be at a fraction of the $299 16 page "chart driven unactionable crap the big city consultants put out. I'm a real practioner. I do this stuff, I'm on the keyboard, not the golf course. Even if all I wrote was a full page of tips and advice for every year I've been doing this, that's 16 pages from an expert willing to back it up. That's worth a few bucks, isn't it? Email me at PLBreport@ericward.com if you'd like to know when the report is ready.

The key takeaways from all this...

On the web, where engines index URLs by the billions, (the good, the bad and the ugly), signals of trust, merit, and intent of source will be crucial to any search result, including a personalized search result.

Signals of trust, merit, and intent of source can be determined in a couple ways...with an algorithm that looks at on-site or off-site signals, or without an algorithm at all, using offline factors (rarely discussed, BTW).

So links, citations, inclusions and connections, along with confidence, intent, credibility and veracity, aren't going anywhere, because what other signals are there?

Seriously, if you had a billion dollars and wanted to start a search engine, what's your big fancy algorithm going to study in order to produce useful results?

What's likely true is the sources of all signals are getting more and more algorithmic scrutiny, and end users play a larger role in this process in many ways. The links you depend on for both traffic and rank better be bullet-proof and not a house of cards waiting to crumble. If your link building tactics and targets have not been wisely chosen, the day is coming (or already has) when you will not be happy.

The value of certain types of links cannot be underestimated...

Why? Because they are so hard to get, and are based on a decision made by a person (as in, um, personalized) who is a passionate subject expert. They don't have to be a Ph.D or a librarian or a famous blogger. They just have to be able to provide algorithmic confidence signals. And you need to know what those signals are. I know what many of them are, only because I've sat in front of a PC screen for way too many years studying this, working at it, over and over and over. If I'm an expert at all I'm an accidental expert.

And as you know, I'm happy to teach what I know to you.

The ability to identify who and what a true influencer is and why is crucial, for both broad and narrow topics. For any topic. Just as important is knowing how to interact with each one of them in the right way, in order to get what it is you seek. This is where I've screamed at the conferences for years that link building and public relations at the highest levels must be thought of both in tandem and as one.

Things are getting interesting, and frankly, I like where I'm positioned,
pun intended.
There's a reason my site (and more importantly, my clients) rank well. A merit based, vertically driven, and etiologic link building methodology doesn't seem so crazy, silly or old school now, does it?


Labels: , , , , , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


About The Link Building Best Practices Q and A
The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who Controls Link Building Success (LinkMoses Resurrected 6)

Who Controls Link Building SuccessIf you are seeker of link building services, and are evaluating companies or persons to help with your linking strategies or link building, it's logical and reasonable to have some questions you want answers for.

One of the most telling questions of all is this one:

"How many links can you get for us and how much will it cost?"

If you asked me this question, the best answer is the most honest answer, and here it is.

For highest quality content seeking links, once you have identified the highest caliber and most credible targets, it is never me, the link builder who gets you the link, and it is never me, the link builder who controls anchor text or any other HTML based editorial choices. It is your content that dictates the ultimate result, not me or any other merit-based link builder.

Put another way, the higher the quality of the target site, the more likely it is the editor/owner is a "curator" of links, passionately picky about what does and does not get on their pages, links, text, anchors, and otherwise. Thus it is not the link builder who controls the success or failure of that process. Even fantastic content doesn't assure links will be granted, or granted in the manner you, as the link builder, wish they were. To try and hold a link builder accountable for editorial decisions made on high merit sites they do not control is, frankly, silly.

Example? Sure.

Let's say I want on this page. For this client. Pagerank 8 blah, blah, blah. It wasn't me that got this link. It was the quality of the kbb.com site I was seeking a link for. All I did was match content of merit with link curator of merit.

Yes, I agree it's easy to do this when the content is that strong. But again, this is the exact point of merit-based linking. And it's why the engines give them such weight. And once again, notice, no anchor text. It isn't needed, isn't used, and to ask for it from this particular target site is like asking the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld for an extra roll with your Crab Bisque.

Just shut up and be happy a link is there at all.

At best, the link builders role with merit or citation based link building is to have the skills to identify the right targets and editorial contacts at those targets, make a brief and polite content introduction, and then leave.


NOTE: To ask a question, click the "comments" link below, or email your question to eric at eric ward dot com

Labels: , , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


About The Link Building Best Practices Q and A
The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

LinkMoses Resurrected #3 - When Cheaters Win, aka Peewater for Links

(Editor's note: See Peewater, as defined by Urban Dictionary)

You'll hear the following question/argument asked at just every online marketing conference, discussion/forum, and I'm asked it at least a few times a month.

"Why should we play by the rules when it's still possible to cheat and rank?"
I understand your frustration, and I can't argue your point, because every day my own analysis shows the exact same thing.

It annoys me as well because I will not use those tactics nor advise a client to try them.

When I begin working on link development for a client, I study the inbound link portfolios of the top 30 or 40 ranked sites across the four largest engines. And plain as day I see countless examples of pure peewater ranking well.

But...

Taking a deep breath, I begin to crunch the backlink data, and I mean hammer on tens of thousands of backlinks across 40 or 50 competitors, all fed into my old school but wickedly cool macro laden excel spreadsheet (60k records at a time, anyway).

What I see emerge time and time and time again is that it isn't always JUST the crappy links and tactics that are working. In other words, the crappy links are there, yes, but there were also some sort of merit based earned inbound(s).

I'm not saying this is the case every time because it isn't. Yes, some sites do rank with nothing more than pure peewater for links. But almost every time I've seen that happen, it's a site in a niche where there is little to no hope of getting merit based links in any volume in the first place. If the keyword searched for happens to fall into one of these niches, Google still has to do what Google does, i.e., rank them. And even if the signals are nothing but the aforementioned junk, Google will faithfully do its job, and rank someone #1 and someone #100, according to whatever signals Google can find, even if those signals are weak, or yellow. After all, is it Google's fault you are lying cheating stealing online pharmacy? No it isn't. (online pharmacy was only an example, please calm down.)

I repeat what I stated, and stick to it...
"...Yes, some sites do rank with nothing more than pure peewater for links. But almost every time I've seen that happen, it's a site in a niche where there is little to no hope of getting merit based links in any volume in the first place.
Since I know the engines are all trying to improve detection of junk links from impacting their result pages, I can't in good conscience recommend or use a tactic I know helps make the results that much worse, and which will stop working, whether tomorrow or next year.

But I also understand business. I just choose not to participate in tactics that make the web uglier.

Next up on LinkMoses Resurrected: How To Make Sure Your Press Release Is Completely and Utterly Useless

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


About The Link Building Best Practices Q and A
The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Monday, July 27, 2009

LinkMoses Resurrected - Thirty Link Building Rants and Commandments

By now most who know me know the LinkMoses backstory.

I retired LinkMoses 15 months ago. LinkMoses had a fabulous run, earned over 100,000 links, (smoke that linkbait) and the post LinkMoses Linking Commandments - Part I remains one of my site's top five most visited pages.

So why bring LinkMoses back for thirty posts? Three reasons.

First, it's easier for me to speak my mind when I'm in LinkMoses mode. A defense mechanism that allows me to say things I'm chickenshit to say as Eric Ward. LinkMoses=Buddy Love, Eric Ward=Sherman Klump.

Reason 2?
The awesome post "Is Most Of SEO Just A Boondoggle?". Jill Whalen took heat for it, though she's one of, if not the most under-appreciated and intelligent voice out there. If you aren't reading High Rankings Advisor Search Marketing Newsletter, I have to ask you what the hell are you thinking? Stop reading this post immediately and go subscribe.

Reason 3?
I never wrote LinkMoses Linking Commandments - Part II. There was no reason to be greedy, and why be a Link Whore?

But, it's time.

LinkMoses will be back here for thirty posts. Rather than tell you what my goal is in doing this, I'll let the posts speak for themselves. The first LinkMoses Resurrected Post will be:

"What If Everything You Know About Link Building Is Wrong?"

It will be here Tuesday.

So let it be written...

Labels: , , , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


About The Link Building Best Practices Q and A
The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Twitter Can Impact Link Building

Live now over at SearchEngineLand is this week's Link Week column:

Twitter: Incredibly Valuable Or Utterly Useless As A Link Building Tool?

Before you start your attack, yes, I know people are saying Twitter has already jumped the shark and become nothing more than a popularity contest. In some instances I agree it is, but from a merit based link building perspective, forget the Twitter masses.

Twitter is not just about Shaq and his 490,000 followers, clicking like sheep whatever URL the big guy tweets.

Twitter is also about small groups of subject specific influencers, and what they do with the links they learn about.

Read more


NOTE: To ask a link building related question, click the "comments" link below, or the "Post a Comment" link at the bottom of any individual post. You can also email your question to lbbp@ericward.com

Labels: , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


About The Link Building Best Practices Q and A
The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Revenge of the Librarians - Don't Hate me for Being Right

.
Revenge of the Linking Librarians

Today I saw the below announcement.

I-Schools Announce Reference Extract Web Search Project

If you're so inclined, I suggest you have a look at the RefEx site, and read the above article, because it will help you understand what I have been preaching about links for over a decade.

Some perspective is in order. I spent a couple years in Library School back in the early nineties under some amazing professors, Jose-Marie Griffiths and Carol Tenopir among them. I watched as the web seemingly came out of nowhere and in some ways snuck up more than a few library school's curricula. Jose and Carol were among those who did see the web of the future, and helped me tremendously (and boy did the web kill Gopher).

I left a few courses shy of my MLS degree to start my content linking and publicity company (dubbed NetPOST back then), and have predicted to whoever would listen ever since that underpaid and hard working librarians would one day arrive en-masse and help make sense of the mess that is the web. They've already been doing this on a library by library basis for years.

I've called it Revenge of the Librarians, and it's why for many many years I have been methodically reaching out to and building contacts and rapport with librarians all over the globe. I bet over half the links I have sought for clients over the years have been from librarians. True, this is easy when the content you are seeking links for is from PBS.org, or NationalGeographic.com, or Discovery.com, but that's the point. Meritorious content earns trusted links. You can't fool a librarian.

Back when I wrote columns under the pen name Linkmoses, I preached for years about meritorious content and earned citation trust, and most of you looked at me like I was an alien. I talked about etiology and trust flow, and you laughed. Called me old school or worse. When I told you your sites weren't good enough to earn the types of merit-based links that would then result in long term earned search rank, you hung up on me and hired a black hatter. For those of you who have heard me speak at conferences, you know that at the end of my sessions I am famous for taking a moment to predict where search is headed, and the potential implications for link building. I'd whisper just one word: Librarians. I think Shari Thurow was the only one in the room who smiled.

I hinted at this in an article a couple years back titled Where Is The Mother of All Links?

Back to RefEx. I don't know what the adoption rate of this new engine/tool will be. Ultimately it will depend on the value the search results offer to the searcher. Certainly there will be value to the academic side of the search world. Consumers may need a bit of help to find it, as the inertia of search habits tends to lead us all to Google. After all, if someone with the brand, clout, and pocketbook as deep as Disney couldn't make Infoseek work, can anyone really hope to gain a foothold in today's search world? I think yes, but people wont find RefEx on their own. We can help.

In my perfect future search world, RefEx results will become a standard toggle selection option for Google, Live, and Ask, giving all searchers exposure to RefEx results, without them having to visit the RefEx site and conduct searches there. The impact of such an integration would be astounding.

-Eric

Labels: , , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


About The Link Building Best Practices Q and A
The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.